The 2009 foreign aid request kept me away from the mid-day FARC protest march. However, Paola Castro, a CIP associate working with our Central America Program, was there. Paola, who is Colombian-American, came back with a very positive impression of the event.
As she notes below, the Washington protestors were careful to stay “on message” – condemning the FARC’s horrific abuses without straying off into more politicized territory (such as supporting government officials, directing ire at Venezuela, or intimidating the peaceful opposition). This deserves praise and congratulations.
As a Colombian-American citizen I feel really glad that the pro-peace and anti-FARC rally went well today in Washington D.C. Around eight hundred people came together in Freedom Plaza [15th and Pennsylvania Avenues], with Colombian flags and a variety of signs. Interestingly enough, none of the signs were pro-government or pro-Uribe as some people predicted.
Civil pressure is exactly what is needed to confront all illegal armed groups that still exist in Colombia in order to force them to stop the atrocities that day by day they continue to perpetrate in the country, affecting all levels of society. I am 25 years old, I was born almost 30 years after the conflict started, and just in the last two years I have seen that for the first time civil society in Colombia is waking up and it is ready to let their voices be heard. I really hope that in the rest of the world where these rallies took place, the spirit has been the same (apolitical, peaceful and well intentioned.)
She took these pictures: